New Delhi, Apr 16: The BJP-led opposition NDA today launched a withering attack on the UPA government for its abysmal failure to rein in spiralling prices and unbridled inflation, saying the crisis had the potential to devastate the democratic foundations of the country and derail the economic growth.
Initiating a short duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the unprecedented price rise of essential commodities, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi charged the government with pursuing wrong economic policies, especially surrendering the food economy to market forces, that had triggered the price rise. ''The government's fundamentals are wrong and its economic policies are not oriented towards buttressing the interests of the country,'' Dr Joshi said.
In his nearly 40-minute speech, laced with a string of statistics on price rise, he cited the instance of forward trading in foodgrains, saying it was an unmitigated disaster.
He said the household budget of the middle class had gone haywire while the poor find it difficult to sustain their bare livelihoods as they reeled under the onslaughts of price rise.
''Salads have disappeared from the plate; green vegetables are becoming a luxury and the cost of quality education has become unaffordable for the middle class,'' he added.
Dr Joshi also questioned the validity of mechanism for determining the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and Consumer Price Index (CPI), saying these needed to be rationalised for presenting a realistic picture of price rise to the common man.
''Inflation has touched 7.4 per cent, but this is an official statistics. On the ground level, it is much higher...could be 11-12 per cent,'' he argued.
The BJP leader wondered why prices had ballooned barely a month and a half after the presentation of the budget in Parliament. He also sought to remind Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who was present in the House, of the government's claim that foodgrains prediction during 2007-08 would be a record and the best in recent years.
''If this is the best, then I am afraid what is the worst.
Despite the government's tall claims and its efforts to present a rosy picture, prices have been rising on a weekly basis, and it is very disturbing for the democratic edifice of the country.''